April 22, 2008
'Catch the Illegal Immigrant' roils Tech campus
By Marlena Hartz
Morris News Service
LUBBOCK - "ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT" read the T-shirts' fronts. "CATCH ME IF YOU CAN" read the backs.
Students in the Texas Tech chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas wore the T-shirts on campus one day as part of a game, "Catch the Illegal Immigrant."
Although the game goes against the university's mission to build a diverse and welcoming atmosphere, the students have a right to play it, Tech President Jon Whitmore wrote in a response letter Wednesday to two students who were deeply offended by the game.
"All members of our university community have a right to express themselves, even when you and I or others disagree with them," his letter reads.
The version of hide-and-seek in which one student wears the T-shirt and others try to catch him or her, usually for a prize, has been causing uproars on college campuses since at least 2006.
The Young Conservatives at Tech played the game for the first time on Tech's campus March 31, members said.
Two students informed the university's president of the event in a protest letter dated April 11 and endorsed by 15 faculty members and six student organizations.
The game promotes violence toward not only illegal immigrants, but all foreigners, their letter reads.
"All this game is doing is creating this tension between students. ... It makes Texas Tech look like it does not welcome diversity. It makes all of us look bad," said Tomas Resendiz, a Tech junior and one of the two Hispanic students who drafted the letter to Whitmore, in which they urged university administrators to clarify their stance on the game.
The Young Conservatives at Tech played the game during their "Deportation Celebration." The event and game were staged to protest state legislation that gives illegal immigrants tuition breaks and to raise awareness of the illegal immigration issue in general, said the chapter's chairman, Cullin Davis.
Most of the students who participated in the "Deportation Celebration" are white, photos of the event show.
University officials have designated certain areas on the Tech campus "free speech zones," where students are permitted to have such demonstrations.
Resendiz said he wishes the president's admonishment of the game would have been stronger.
"This offends the Hispanic community as a whole," said Resendiz.